Reading Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Reading

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    Reading Abbey

    by dejavu2gb Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Abbey Ruins

    Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by King Henry I. In 1539 it came to an end when King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in England.
    Being one of the most important and wealthiest monasteries in Medievel England.
    As it was a Royal Abbey, it was often visited by Kings and Queens and was also host to events of national importance.
    Set in a very nice part of town across from the River Kennett.

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    • Castles and Palaces
    • Museum Visits

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    Saint Mary's Butts

    by easyoar Written Dec 4, 2004

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    Saint Mary's Butts, Reading

    St Mary's Butts Church has an interesting checkerboard brickwork. If you enlarge the picture you will be able to see this.

    The name of the church is pretty strange, and at one point, gave its name to the rather outdated Broad Street Mall (originally called the 'Butts Shopping Centre', although this name got dropped for some unknown reason ;-) )

    Interestingly, the name actually came about because King Edward IV decreed at one point that every Englishman should have a bow (as in bow and arrow) that was as tall as he was, and that every town should have a Butts where the archery practice could take place. The area in front of St Mary's butts was exactly where this practice area was. Indeed some of Readings Archers fought at the Battle of Agincourt. The Archery Butts stopped being used in 1631, when the town of Reading paid the sum of £3 for the privilege of stopping.

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    Walkways along the Thames

    by iris2002 Written Apr 14, 2006

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    There are a lot of things for hikers and cyclers in the vicinity.

    I enjoy the Thames path - which on a sunny day are really lovely.

    The Thames path is an easy route both in terms of ground and route finding. Finding camping sites would be difficult along parts of the route. 180 miles (290k) 12-14 days. (Windsor to source fits into a week). Minimal ascent, 5m to 110m in 180 miles, with a few minor ups and down along the way.

    Thames events!
    Henley regatta End of June into July. Womens' mid June.
    Reading regatta Mid June
    Swan Upping Third week of July on upper Thames
    The Great River Race Richmond to Greenwich in September
    Head of the river race womens' race Mortlake to Putney in March
    University boat race March, Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge.
    Doggett Coat and Badge race and Port of London Challenge Race London Bridge to Chelsea, two dates in mid July
    Marlow Regatta June

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    Feeding the swans on the Thames

    by easyoar Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    Feeding the swans in the River Thames

    If you have young children, or just like wildlife, then it is well worth heading for the River Thames. A large group of swans (100+) congregate just behind the Caversham hotel, which is just inbetween Caversham Bridge and Reading Rowing Club. If you do feed the swans, please do not feed them right next to the landing stages used by the rowers as otherwise the swans swim right next to them and get clobbered by the rowers oars as they come in (rowers go backwards, so it can be hard for them to see a swan moving around just behind them!).

    There has been free parking just behind the rowing club. There are rumours that the council will start charging for it, but it is unlikely to be expensive.

    Of course the best way to feed the swans is just to jump on into the river and feed them by hand, but I can understand if this isn't to everyones tastes... (The swans are up in the top corner of the picture).

    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Arts and Culture
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    Oscar Wilde Walk (Chestnut Walk)

    by easyoar Written Sep 26, 2004

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    Oscar Wilde Walk

    It may seem a little bizarre to recommend strolling past the side of a prison, but Chestnut Walk (more recently renamed Oscar Wilde Walk) is a very pleasant stroll along the Kennet and Avon Canal. At one end is Hombase, and the other end the Abbey Ruins and a very short walk to Forbury Gardens. A nice time to walk along is late September when the conkers are starting to fall but the leaves are still on the trees.

    The name Oscar Wilde Walk is taken from the time when Reading Gaol hosted Oscar Wilde for the 'offence' of "laying down with another man".

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    The Lion In Forbury Gardens

    by easyoar Written Sep 26, 2004

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    The sculptor is so ashamed of it that...

    Firstly it is worth noting that Forbury Gardens are closed for renovation until March 2005. The Lion is also being renovated and is currently under scaffolding.

    This Lion was designed as a War memorial to men from Berkshire who died fighting in Afghanistan in 1880 (in a town called Maiwand - hence the Lions name of "Maiwand Lion"). The Lion was sculpted by George Blackall Simonds and unveiled in 1886. Unfortunately the sculptor forgot to analyse the way Lions walk, and sculpted him with his legs in such a manner that a real Lion would fall over if he ever tried to walk this way. Urban legend has it that when the sculptor realised this very basic error, he committed suicide.

    Note:- To see the Lion without wrapping please see the link provided.

    Related to:
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    • Arts and Culture

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    The Abbey Ruins

    by easyoar Updated Dec 12, 2004

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    A Monk outside the Abbey Ruins

    Readings Abbey was founded in 1121 by King Henry I (he was also buried here when he died). Henry's daughter Matilda visited Santiago de Compostela in Spain to see the dead body of Saint James. Apparently during this visit, she pulled one of the hands off the corpse and brought it back to Reading and gave it to the monks. As this hand was supposed to heal people, many pilgrims came to Reading and made the Abbey very rich. The Abbey building itself was very grand and even parliament sometimes met there. These days, only some of the walls remain, and the site plays host to outdoor Shakespearian plays during the summer months.

    Note:- The Abbey walls are currently being restored and are not completely open to the public at present. However the main part has been completed now and is looking very good with freshly laid and landscaped grass (early Dec 2004).

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    Walking along the Thames

    by dejavu2gb Written Jan 18, 2006

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    Sunset along the Thames
    2 more images

    When visiting Reading, walk down Caversham Road, towards the Thames River.
    Its really nice walking along the river, expecially during sunset. Also makes for good photo opportunities.
    The walk is particularly nice during summer when the sun only starts setting late.
    You will also seen many keen rowers going up and down the river, as its a very popular spot for rowers and the boathouse is also closeby.
    There are also loads of swans to be seen. I personally do not like them, but many people do, so also nice to take some pictures of them.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Sailing and Boating

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  • easyoar's Profile Photo

    Reading Railway Station - scene of a stolen bomb!

    by easyoar Written Dec 13, 2004

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    Reading Station - where the bomb was stolen

    This is not really a Must-see site, but I add this in for the comedy value!

    About ten years ago, some IRA terrorists were on a train out of London Paddington carrying a bomb. Also on the train was a petty thief who had family living in Reading. This thief spotted the two IRA guys (who apparently looked a bit shifty), and spotted the bag they were carrying. He told the Police later that it looked like a classic bag that a thief would use for a job as it would compress down nicely when not in use. His assumption being that the two IRA guys were thieves who had just done a job.

    Anyway to cut a long story short, as the train was about to leave Reading station, he jumped up, snatched the bag from the two IRA guys and leapt off the train. He ran towards his sisters house (a mile or two away) before opening the bag and realising what it was. He dropped the bag outside his sisters house (I'm sure she thanked him for that!) and ran off screaming it was a bomb.

    The Police were called, and retrieved the bomb and later the petty thief. At first they planned to prosecute him, but they could see he was so frightened (of retribution from the IRA), that they ended up commending him for preventing a bomb attack and releasing him uncharged.

    This may sound like bull, but I can assure you it is true, the local paper still makes mention of it (somewhat briefly) on the following webpage - see the last paragraph! http://www.getreading.co.uk/story.asp?intid=9366

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    Town Hall / Museum

    by easyoar Updated Sep 27, 2004

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    Reading Town Hall

    Reading has historically been famous for the 3 B's. There is no debate that two of these B's were Biscuits (Huntley and Palmers - see separate tip) and Beer (there is still the Courage Brewery by the M4 junction today). There is however some debate as to whether the Third B stood for bricks. There is no doubt however that as you go through Reading you will see a lot of impressively built brick buildings from yesteryear. The Town Hall (which also houses the Reading Museum) is a good example of one of these buildings.

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    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Readings BARGES

    by iris2002 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    reading barges

    Every year there is a Barge Festival where boat after boat is dressed up and cruises along the River Kennett right through the city centre of Reading.... accompanied by a festival on land where music and other attractions lure the audience in.

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    • Sailing and Boating

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    A decidedly unamused Queen Victoria

    by easyoar Updated Dec 12, 2004

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    She is NOT amused.

    Just behind the back end of Marks and Spencers is a statue of Queen Victoria. In case you don't know, Queen Victoria was Queen of England for over 60 years and was Britains longest serving monarch. She had a reputation for speaking her mind. So it is not perhaps surprising that she is showing her opinion here!

    Occasionally Queen Victoria's headgear changes, and her crown is replaced by a traffic bollard or pigeon, but she always looks decidely unamused.

    Rumour has it, that the reason she is facing away from the town is due to her dislike of Reading.

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    All that is left of Huntley & Palmers

    by easyoar Updated Dec 4, 2004

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    Huntley & Palmers Social Club

    All that is left of Huntley & Palmers (Readings famous biscuit makers) these days is the Recreational Club Headquarters. The rest of the buildings that were Huntley & Palmers have been demolished and replaced by (amongst other things) a large building for the Prudential.

    This building has been converted into social housing for people of Reading. The old Huntley & Palmers sign has been restored to its former glory, the the old building does actually look quite good still!

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    • Food and Dining
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    Really feeding the swans

    by easyoar Written Jan 22, 2005

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    Feeding the Swans on the River Thames

    When you feed the swans, please do it away from the rowing club landing stages (I have been in boats which have hit swans with oars - in one case breaking the swans wing) because people have been feeding the swans by the landing stages.

    Also if you have young children make sure you only feed the birds that are in the water. The swans aren't aggresive, but they come after the food. When you have around 50 swans milling around pecking at what they think is food, it terrifies small children as in most cases the swans are taller than them. They also seem to terrify adults in these cases too. All you need to do is act confidently and walk through them, or gently shoo them away with your hands.

    The best thing to feed them is bread.

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    The Hexagon

    by easyoar Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Reading's Hexagon Arts Centre

    If you like 1960's type (this was probably 1970s actually) architecture of the concrete monstrosity type, then the Hexagon is the place for you!

    This is actually a venue for Music, Theatre, Pantomime, Sporting occasions such as snooker, and sometimes even filming for TV shows.

    You are unlikely to visit the Hexagon, just for the sake of visiting it. I remember several years ago, when Leonard Nimoy (Spock of Star Trek fame) was signing copies of his new book, the Hexagon was booked out for this too.

    The attached picture probably says it all... Just in case the picture doesn't make it obvious, the Arts Centre is built as a six sided building, hence the name.

    Related to:
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    • Theater Travel
    • Music

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